Analysis of Fairbairn's Get Tough
I'm attempting a semi-serious analysis of one of the classic tomes of the RBSDer's library, Get Tough by W.E. Fairbairn. I picked this one for a couple reasons:
1. its technical approach is fairly simple and direct, so it should be fairly easy to go through and critique
2. it focuses on techniques common to the RBSD crowd (open hands to the head and neck, low kicks, knee to the balls)
3. William E. Fairbairn is well-regarded among "hand to hand combat enthusiasts" because he was a member of the Royal Marine Light Infantry, British Secret Service, and the Shanghai Municipal Police, where he was said to have been in hundreds of fights. Also, he was said to be trained in boxing, jujutsu, Kodokan judo (2nd degree BB) and Chinese martial arts.
So basically, we have a short, simple manual written by a man many respect as an authority on real-world fighting. Does it live up to the hype? Do his methods work? I ask because decades later, we see the value of sport-based training even outside the sporting ring. Our military has adopted BJJ, wrestling and kickboxing over its old training methods as the paradigm has shifted. Some old guys say that this is a mistake and we should return to Fairbairn's methods. A classic sport vs street argument.
Rather than rehashing that old thing (yes, aliveness is necessary for good training so you actually learn to struggle) I figured we could have a look from a technical perspective, since the curriculum is so short. So, let's pretend that under stress, our RBSD proponent will, in fact, respond with Fairbairn's karate chops and shin kicks, rather than being overwhelmed by fighting resistance they've never really faced. Let's assume that this is real combat, and let's also add that the opponent is at least as big/strong as the defender (since these methods are supposed to work on everyone). Will these measures really stop the attacker in the way they are supposed to? I'd like to hear opinions on both sides.
NOTE: Get Tough is technically a hand to hand combat book, not a civilian self defense one. However, many RBSD advocates basically recommend the same or a similar approach.
The book is divided into the following chapters:
-Miscellaneous Advice (this one is pretty interesting for discussion)
-Use of the Knife
-Disarming an Opponent of His Pistol
I figure I'll outline each one a post at a time and leave room for comments. If others are interested and involved, hopefully we'll get through the whole thing and have a nice, thorough discussion of everything by the end. Or you'll lolzorz @ krotty chops and it'll be one of those threads.
So, let's get to Blows!
#1: edge of the hand:
"Deliver edge-the-hand blows with the inner
(i.e., little-finger) edge e hand, fingers
straight and close together, thumb extended.
Contact is made with the edge only, about
half-way between the knuckle of the little
finger and the wrist, as shown in Fig. 1.
1. Deliver the blow with a bent arm
(never with a straight arm), using a
chopping action from the elbow, with
the weight of the body behind it.
Practice by striking the open palm of
your left hand, as in Fig. 2.
2. There are two ways in which this blow
can be delivered:
(a) Downwards, with either hand;
(b) Across, with cither hand; the blow
always being delivered outwards, with
the palm of the hand downwards,
never on top (Fig. 3).
3. Attack the following points on your opponent's body, delivering every blow
as quickly as possible:
(a) The sides or back of the wrist;
(b) The forearm, half-way between the wrist and elbow;
(c) The biceps;
(d) The sides or back of the neck;
(e) Just below the "Adam's apple";
(f) The kidneys or base of the spine.
Note. - If your opponent catches hold of you, strike his wrist or forearm; a fracture will most
likely result. This would be almost impossible with a blow from a clenched fist."
What do you think of Fairbairn's advice about the use of the edge of hand blow?
Here's a link to a PDF version for interested parties:
another reason it seemed like a good book choice is that as a 60 year old military manual I'm pretty sure its public domain now.
Some of the techniques are used in Bas Rutten's self defense manual
Like the page 16 reverse standing armbar or whatever that is
The chair vs knife
Ok, are you going to try the defense against holds in your gym? that would be interesting
Cool idea for a thread.
So, technique #1 - put me in the thumbs down column. That part of your hand is not the greatest weapon for striking. If I were forced to strike with that side of the hand I'd rather it be with a hammer fist. If I wanted to strike with an open hand for some reason, I'd rather strike with the part of my hand closest to the wrist. That hard spot there is much less prone to shattering like a fucking twig.
As for the targets he lists - he's basically advocating "defanging the snake" with half the items on his list. Can I get a "hell no?" If someone wants to spend precious milliseconds in a combat scenario trying to shatter somebody's arm with a strike, go for it. I'll pass.
Throat strikes and stuff? Low percentage. No good.
Next technique please.
Oh ****. I just read through the PDF. There are some fucking gems in there.
I know I'm reading ahead, but I'd like to say I can proudly endorse the "Bronco Kick" without reservation.
Edit: I'm sitting in my office crying with laughter from the bronco kick illustration. That's all kinds of awesome.
Last edited by Devil; 7/29/2013 1:55pm at .
I think this would flow more nicely if we kept things going one topic at a time, instead of jumping around.
Originally Posted by RurikGreenwulf
So, edge of hand blow?
Originally Posted by Permalost
In Kyokushin we were taught to strike with the bone at the end of the hand we very rarely did shuto padwork wich felt awkward
It also felt awkward when I would try the shuto techniques against the heavy bag and painful also, the biggest problem I see with it, is that a person any person who trains this and someone who has barely trained it has a very good chance of missing and hitting with the fingers wich of course is quite painful and has a good chance of injury
Even more chance of injury if the other defendant does a hard block
I believe some heavy conditioning would be needed to avoid issues like that, conditioning that requires years and must be gradual as the higher belts told me something like what is shown at the beggining of the video
I would try some shuto against the heavy bag but now I'm training at the place my cousin got his fight and well...
I don't think It would be a good idea hehe
What do you think about stretching the thumb back, as Fairbairn advocates, compared to the more common thumb tucked in variety?
I was personally taught to keep the thumb sticked to the hand, joined to it to avoid any posible damage to the thumb, well keeping the thumb stretched seems (with all due respect to Fairbairn) a good way to get it broken if someone does a hard block or parry and you get hit in the thumb
Originally Posted by Permalost
For example if your intent is hitting someone in the neck if you are not fast enough they would probably rise their shoulders and you may hit your fingers against their shoulder bone
Or if you are trying to hit them at the kidneys they may tuck their elbows and again your fingers are in danger
Last edited by RurikGreenwulf; 7/29/2013 3:33pm at .
I just tried the pratice stirke in #1 and it hurt my striking hand a lot more than the strikee hand. Both times.
I'm just going to keep balling my fist like a normal person...